Brian ‘Batt’ Lynch will be remembered as a “people person”, Abbeylara Parish Priest Michael Campbell told mourners at the former county councillor’s funeral mass on Friday. Mr Lynch passed away in the early hours of Tuesday, June 26, at the Midlands Regional Hospital in Mullingar following an accident a number of weeks ago.
“Brian had a great way of relating to those around him,” Fr Campbell told mourners. “He was a larger than life character and was unique in many ways. He shared himself with all who came his way.”
A diligent public representative and quiet family man first and foremost, the Carrickduff politician was also a noted sportsman.
A winner of both minor and senior championships with Colmcille in the mid to late 1950s, Fr Campbell recalled how a chance GAA encounter led locals to christen the north Longfird native with the term ‘Bat’.
“Roscommon were playing in this game and there was a player whose surname was Lynch. Around that time our Brian began playing with Colmcille with which he won two championships. People, having listened to Micheal O’Hare calling this player Batt Lynch, began calling Brian ‘Batt’ Lynch. He liked it and he had it on his electioneering card,” he said.
But there were many, as his son Padraig pointed out, other strings to his father’s bow.
“Every day Dad dropped into Granard after Mass to buy the Independent. He would use it as an excuse to have a chat with friends. He would go to Mass every day, sit in the corner with his head down. He would also say the Rosary at night without fail. But above all of those things, family was the most important thing to Dad. He was always there when we needed him and he always showed us he loved us in his own special way,” he explained.
A founder member of the Family Resource Centre, Lus Na Greine in Granard, Brian’s unflinching passion for community pride, led to similarly important roles with the likes of Granard Youthreach and the north Longford town’s agricultural show committee among many others.
Heavily involved with the county’s VEC structure for many years before also enjoying a spell as GAA county board vice chairman, it was arguably his long held association with Longford County Council which many knew him best for.
Initially co-opted onto the local authority, Brian assumed the mantle left by the retiring Mick McCarthy in 1992. It was to prove a relatively smooth transition for the popular Fianna Fail representativs as he comfortably held onto his seat three years later.
During his long political career, he contested no less than six local elections for Fianna Fail, the first of which came in 1974.
“He had politics in the right place, to help people and to make parishes and communities that bit better,” said a forthright Fr Campbell.
A member of the party since 1969, it wasn’t until over 20 years later that the spectre of public service eventually coincided with undeniably his biggest role to date-chairperson of Longford County Council.
“Brian was a very well respected councillor, there was no doubt about that,” said Cllr PJ Reilly this week.
“He served the local people for 22 years and he did that with great dedication. But he was also such a kind hearted person, someone who had a huge regard for the elderly and less privileged.”
Twelve years on from his first foray into local political life, it wasn’t until the 2004 local elections that public representation began to take its toll on the long serving politician.
Defeated by only 57 votes and with his career seemingly at an end, there appeared little, if any way back, for the ‘Bat’.
However, some five years later and with his appetite for public life still very much intact, Brian opted to run as an independent after failing to secure a Fianna Fail nomination.
Soon, placards and slogans bearing the old familiar ‘Bat-Vote for the Man You Know’ sprung up across the north Longford landscape, fuelling hopes of a spectacular political comeback.
It wasn’t to be however, an outcome which his daughter, Martine explained left him unperturbed.
“ He felt privileged to serve you all down through the years on the council and in the community,” she told a hushed St Bernard’s Church at the end of Funeral proceedings.
“Rest in peace Dad, I guess we now have our very own person in Heaven to make representations on our behalf.”
Among those who paid tribute to Brian Lynch in the past week was Noel Conway of Longford Fianna Fail who described Brian Lynch as loyal and dedicated to the people he served. He was also the Chairman of the Granard Agricultural Show for many years and the launch of this year’s show was cancelled last week as a mark of respect to Brian Lynch and his family. Longford Manager Glen Ryan paid tribute to Mr Lynch following Longford’s victory over Derry on Saturday evening last. A life-long GAA fan, Brian Lynch would have derived much satisfaction from Longford’s progress this season. His sad passing brings to a close a life of dedicated public service and unwavering community activism.
The late Brian Lynch is survived by his wife Bridie, son Padraig, daughters Martine, Mary and Imelda, son in law Duggie McLarne and a large extended family, friends and neighbours.
He was later laid to rest inside the grounds of St Mary’s Cemetery, Carra.